• Oct 22, 2009
Mythbusters test golf ball-like dimpling on MPG – Click above to watch video after the jump

The Mythbusters must be closet car fans, because the hour-long show on the Discovery Channel seems to be producing more and more experiments involving automobiles than ever before. Their latest again involves fuel efficiency, this time testing if a dirty car is more fuel efficient than a clean one because of the golf ball-like dimpling effect of the dirt. Turns out dirt doesn't make a difference, but Adam and Jamie went one step further to test if covering a car in actual golf ball-like dimples would improve its fuel efficiency. According to cable's most crack scientists, yes, it will.

The show's team completely covered a last-gen Ford Taurus with modelers clay and figured out that it would achieve about 26 mpg at a constant 65 mph. They then went about adding over 1,000 dimples to the car's exterior. To keep the experiment consistent, all 1,082 dimples removed from the clay exterior were put in a box and set in the back seat so that the car would weigh exactly the same as before dimpling. The theory is that, like a golf ball, the dimples would reduce the car's drag through the air, thus allowing it to travel the same distance at the same speed using less fuel. The result? Over 29 mpg.

Follow the jump to watch the whole episode for yourself, though if you're only interested in watching the dimpled car do it's thing, skip ahead to about 40 minutes in.

[Source: Megavideo]



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    • 1 Second Ago
  • 77 Comments
      • 5 Years Ago
      Also great at hiding door dings, especially those made by stray golf balls.
      • 5 Years Ago
      Dont give F1 engineers ideas or we'll see "dimpled" F1 cars next year.. ugh.
      • 5 Years Ago
      The dimples were too big!

      It's been proven before that the "boundary layer," which holds to the surface of the vehicle better when the surface is rough instead of smooth, helps aerodynamics - look up Roger Penske and his vinyl-roofed Camaro.
      • 5 Years Ago
      There's something else to consider here as well. Some of the drag that these dimples probably eliminate is the down force that all cars need and have. To generate down force, some drag is created, if you eliminate that, you get cars that are unstable at highway speeds.
      • 5 Years Ago
      Hmmm....maybe hail damage isn't a bad thing after all?
      • 5 Years Ago
      A dirty car will lower your fuel economy. Dirt doesn't make the car suddenly have golf ball dimples. A dimpled car will increase your fuel economy.
        • 5 Years Ago
        Mythbusters needs to take that Taurus (or another car) into a wind tunnel for an accurate measurement of the difference in wind resistance.
        • 5 Years Ago
        Breaking news: Tyson Gay informed of dimple effect, caught laying on egg cartons before race.
      • 5 Years Ago
      I'm thinking: IF this works aerodynamically speaking , how easy would it be to manufacture very thin dimpled sheets of plastic, which weigh next to nothing, and cover the car with them. I'd get that for my car, if someone thought of manufacturing it.
        • 5 Years Ago
        There are companies selling this sort of thing. They don't work.
      • 5 Years Ago
      This just in: The state of California is now requiring all cars sold to be covered in dimples...
      • 5 Years Ago
      I don't buy this. The dimples on a golf ball effect stuff like boundary layers and airflow separation. They actually increase the skin friction drag.The only place dimples might help reduce drag on a car is right at the back of the roof (similar to what the Lancer Evo IX has, except they use vortex generators instead of dimples). If this worked, then why doesn't every aircraft have dimpled skin and wing surfaces, or why don't F1 cars have them either? (I say F1 because they really pay attention to aerodynamics). The fact is, if this actually worked, everyone would be using it already. I think that there was some other factor that resulted in the +3mpg.
      • 5 Years Ago
      Car guys? yeah that's why the destroyed a classic Plymouth Fury and Toyota Corona.
      • 5 Years Ago
      See. Dimples win. Mine get me the ladies, those save fuel, others got a kid to pwn Tiger.
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